The Iron Duke (Iron Seas, #1)The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Of course I wear armor. I am sitting with pirate, a mercenary, an adventurer, and a bounder. If a shot is not fired tonight, I daresay that your reputations are nothing but lies.

Continuing on the with my personal experiment into reading steampunk, I picked up The Iron Duke.


I found this book to be vastly entertaining. Not deep. Not meaningful. And not really something that I will rush out to read again or suggest to others, but entertaining.

This is a steampunk romance. Do no let the “fantasy” in the description fool you. When you pick up this book, you will get a tale that ultimately is geared toward the romantic entanglement of the 2 main characters with the remainder of the plot being secondary. Luckily it was written in such a way that kept you attached to the pages. You could not wait for the next crazy thing to come out of someone’s mouth. Human dynamics were at the height of amusing in this book. Not laugh out loud funny…but amusing.

And now you see the trend of me with this book. It could only be 3 stars (and barely) because while I was attached to the pages and read it in a single go, there was always a “BUT” attached to every good thing I could say about it.

Okay, personal opinion for the good stuff:

This book is a ‘what if’ style history for Europe and, more particularly, England and Great Britain. What if the Asian side of the world and their genius with technology had taken over the continent and enslaved humanity? What if they not only enslaved them, but injected the populace with nanoagents that would allow them to be controlled in every physical way via remote? What would happen to a country torn apart by such evil after a revolution?

And that is where we come in. Post-revolution England. One man, an ex-slave/ex-pirate with the moniker of the Iron Duke, is responsible for ending the tyranny that the English had lived under for centuries. But along the way to freeing the world of such evil, he made more than a few enemies. One of those enemies seems to have targeted his prize ship and her crew. He knows this because a dead body was dropped on his highly secured front door step without so much as a single witness.

Enter-from a ball she hated- stage left Detective Inspector Wilhelmina “Mina” Wentworth. Despite her half-Asian heritage, she is considered one of the best in the biz. Because of her half-Asian heritage, she has to have a body-guard that comes in the form of her loyal bounder (did not live under Asian rule) constable. She is almost universally hated by the very buggers (nanoagent infected who lived under the Asian rule) she seeks to protect. And it is her job to figure out who wanted to send the Iron Duke message…preferably before he does and divests his own brand of “justice” on those responsible.

While the police are unwelcome on in the investigation as for as the Iron Duke is concerned, he cannot help but be drawn to Mina. So he lets her investigate. INSTA-LOVE ALERT!! But we will forgive the insta-love because Mina is no simpering milk maid to be rolled over. She is highly intelligent with reasons of her own for continuing the investigation–mainly a little brother in danger. Better still, if the Iron Duke wants Mina, he will have to button down on his own arrogance and win her. That means overcoming the many traumas she has received at both the hands of the tyrannical overlords and the average English citizen.

Character development was an B+ for me. All of the characters were multi-faceted and well-rounded. The female characters where GREAT! Mina was ferocious, she was independent, she took charge, she was intelligent, and she did not need a man for anything! Our mercenary pirate captain Yasmina was dangerous. She was mysterious. She was tortured. She also needed zero male interaction. The male characters, particular the Iron Duke, were more meh for me, but still well-rounded. They just were not as inspiring. The major downsides were the holes in character history. How is it that Mina’s mother would self harm at the sight of her bastard daughter, but loved her so unconditionally later? What happened to our snazzy mercenary captain Yasmina to cause her to wear bandannas and hate touch? Where is the king in all of this political turmoil? There are plot and character holes scattered throughout the book that are never fully explained. The book simply felt incomplete. Perhaps that is because this is the first installment, but even the main characters (who did conclude their story) were not fully rounded.

The world development was rather fascinating. A society that is putting the pieces back together after 2 centuries of having no free will? Love it! The steampunk actually really worked here. A lot of steampunks that I have read so far, I find steampunks worlds wanting. As in “I want it to actually make sense and add to the world.” This time the world could only be steampunk. It was bold. It was decisive. I say good on the author!

This was a pleasant read that minor plot/character holes only slightly detracted from.